Jason and Brian from Dads by Design smiling in front of DIY coffee table

When we decided to redo the living room a new round coffee table was a must. We’re not currently in the market to replace our sectional and a round coffee table is a much better fit than what we had previously (no corners for toddlers to whack their heads on!). Fast forward to 2020 and BAM, COVID-19! It seemed like nearly every retailer’s coffee tables were either on insane backorder and if we did find something that would arrive before winter 2020, it just wouldn’t work for our space. And that’s where the idea for a DIY coffee table began…

Once I discovered this coffee table at Wayfair, I thought, “we could probably build something for less than that list price.” Luckily, I convinced Brian to attempt DIY our table, even though we’ve never built furniture before. Full disclosure, we actually built this table twice because our first attempt was… well, terrible. As I said, we’d never built furniture before, so we were bound to make mistakes. That’s DIY, right? 😉

Here are our plans and process for the second successful DIY coffee table.

DIY modern round light wood coffee table


4′ x 8′ maple plywood panel 3/4″ thick
2 1 in. x 4 in. x 8 ft. pieces of maple lumber (then cut with a table saw to be 4 1 in x 2 in. 8 ft. pieces)
2 1/2″ pocket hole screws
1 1/4″ wood screws
3/4″ edge banding
Wood glue
Tack cloth
120, 220, 300, 400 grit sandpaper
Wood conditioner
Varathane golden pecan stain
Matte polyurethane finish

Clamps!!! (clamps are your friends! You need lots of these to ensure success.) We used this for the corners and it was a lifesaver: BESSEY 90-Degree Corner Clamp
Trimming Plane
Kreg Pocket hole jig
Power Drill & Drill Bits
Mitre Saw
Circular Saw

Coffee Table Instructions

Step One

Brian from Dads by Design cutting maple wood with mitre saw
Brian concentrating very hard on making cuts

After cutting the maple pieces with a table saw (we’ll count this as “pre-work” rather than an actual step one) we cut them all down to their appropriate lengths for the table. These are the custom measurements we used for our table. You could scale these accordingly for your needs:

Cut list:

  1. Legs 4 @ 1×2 @ 16.25″
  2. Long Stretchers 2 @ 1×2 @ 30″
  3. Shorter Intersecting stretchers 4 @ 14.25″

Overall table dimensions: 32″ wide (tabletop) x 17″ tall

Step Two

Brian from Dads by Design drilling pocket holes for DIY coffee table using Kreig Jig
Brian using the Kreg Jig to drill into the legs of the coffee table

After we made all the cuts for the base, we used a Kreg Jig to drill pocket holes on both ends of the long stretchers (2) and the ends of the shorter stretchers (3) that connect with outer legs. For a more visual description, we followed portions of the directions in this post.

Two DIY coffee table base stretchers with pocket hole jig holes
Kreg Jigs make pretty pocket holes

Step Three

After drilling the pocket holes, we started assembling the legs. This step is where clamps are critical. Surprisingly, wood glue is actually more important in holding the DIY coffee table together than the screws (and where we really messed up on our first attempt).

We began gluing and clamping all of the legs and stretchers together. Again, if you need more visuals this post is helpful. When you’re gluing make sure everything is as flush as possible. This will help ensure your table is level when you’re done. Again, this is why we had to build two versions of our DIY coffee table — because the first wasn’t level. You don’t want your DIY project to look like a DIY project!

Believe us, when making this coffee table base clamps are your friends! Use all the clamps!
More clamps on the coffee table base

Step Four

Brian and Jason from Dads by Design with modern DIY coffee table base
Two dads thrilled that we made a coffee table base! (Full disclosure: this was the first base that ended up not being fully level. *face palm*

After the glue dried on each of the legs and stretchers, we screwed the pieces together with the 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws. This ensured the glue bond didn’t break as we glued other pieces together. We continued this process until we had the coffee table base completely assembled.

Step Five

Now for the coffee tabletop! This was the fun part. We basically built a giant compass with the router. To do this, we first cut the 4’x8′ piece of maple plywood in half using the circular saw.

Step Six

Router being used to build modern DIY coffee table
The router “compass” we used as a guide to make the coffee tabletop

After cutting the maple plywood in half, we used a spare piece of wood to create our compass arm. The compass arm should be nailed into the maple plywood, gently, at the radius length of your table (16″ from the drill bit in our case because the diameter of the table is 32″).

Step Seven

Brian from Dads by Design using router to cut maple plywood for modern DIY coffee table top
Brian using the router to cut out the coffee tabletop from the maple plywood sheet

Once our setup was complete, we cut the circle at about different depths: 1/4″, 1/2″ and then finally 3/4″. This helps so your router doesn’t get overworked.

Step Eight

Cutting the coffee table top was so much easier than anticipated. Once cut, we applied 3/4″ edge banding around the edge of the wood. Because we used pre-glued edge banding we used a hot iron to adhere it to the wood.

Step Nine

Once the edge banding is applied, we used a trimming plane to trim the edge of the banding around the top of the table. Be careful on this step not to over trim the edge of your coffee tabletop. Here’s a helpful post on applying edge banding.

Step Ten

Using a nail to place base onto tabletop of round modern DIY coffee tabletop
We used a nail to ensure the coffee table base was completely centered with the tabletop

This next step was fairly simple but impactful because it started to look like a table! We drilled a small hole in the top center of the wood base and put a small nail in the bottom of the table. This allowed us to put the table in the exact center of the table without doing a lot of measuring.

Base of modern wood DIY coffee table after being screwed into table top
The coffee table base completely screwed in to the table top

Step Eleven

At this point, we were getting so close to the finish line! We then sanded the entire table and base, starting with 120 grit working all the way up to 320 to get a nice and smooth finish.

Step Twelve

Varathane golden pecan wood stain to be used on modern DIY coffee table
We used Varathane Golden Pecan stain (and it turned out exactly like we wanted!)

After wiping the table down with a tack cloth it was time to stain. We used Varathane’s Golden Pecan stain because it is a slightly warmer color than a natural stain but still keeps the wood a light color. We coated the bottom twice and the top three times. (Note: if you use a wood similar to maple or pine, be sure to use wood conditioner on your wood before staining this will help prevent blotchiness.)

Step Thirteen

Finally, we reached the last step: sealing the table! We used a polyurethane with a matte finish because we didn’t want the table to have a shine at all. We coated the base with two coats of polyurethane and the top four times. For tips on applying polyurethane click here.

We are so happy with how it turned out. But what do you think? Did we succeed in knocking off the Wayfair original? If you build your own DIY coffee table we would love to see it. Leave a comment below or tag us on Instagram at @dadsbydesign.

Unstyled modern wood round DIY coffee table
Modern round wood DIY coffee table
Modern round wood DIY coffee table shot from above
Modern round wood DIY cofee table